Top military officials addressed the increasing threat of hypersonic glider weapons at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium this week. The development of hypersonic gliders strain current missile defense systems due to the gliders’ increased speed, lower travel altitude, and unpredictable trajectory compared to traditional intercontinental ballistic missiles (“ICBMs”).
With the looming Continuing Resolution (“CR”), Air Force Secretary, Deborah Lee James, warned congressional members that up to 60 program budgets would be impacted. The potential long-term CR would underfund the Air Force by an estimated $1.3 billion compared to its requested FY2017 budget.
After overcoming cost overruns and development concerns, the F-35A has officially been declared ready for combat, 15 years after Lockheed Martin originally won the contract. As a result of achieving the initial operational capability (“IOC”) milestone, the first F-35 operational formation can now be deployed anywhere in the world.
Boeing announced it may end production of its 747 aircraft if it continues to experience a decline in orders and an increase in pricing pressure. For the time being, Boeing has decided to continue with the plan of halving the production rate to 6 aircraft per year starting in September.
The KC-46 tanker program has completed its flight tests and is now expected to request approval from the Pentagon to start low-rate initial production. In advance of its Milestone C decision in August and a week after refueling the C-17 Globemaster II and the F-16, the KC-46A successfully transferred 1,500 pounds of fuel to the A-10 Warthog.
Airbus and Boeing had a modest showing at this year’s Farnborough Air Show with a combined $62 billion in deals, especially in comparison to last year’s historic $116 billion in orders. The Farnborough Air Show is typically a high point for aircraft orders and the commercial-aviation industry as a whole. During the air show, Airbus outpaced Boeing, with $35 billion in orders, bringing its YTD total orders to 380 aircraft.
The Pentagon has submitted approximately $2.6 billion in funding shifts within its reprogramming request to Congress. The funding shifts include $1.2 billion in fiscal 2016 appropriations, $583 million in the Defense Working Capital Fund, and $499 million in fiscal 2015 overseas contingency operation funding.
After months of discussion, Airbus and Safran have reached an agreement to create Airbus Safran Launchers, a European rocket joint venture. The two companies have been working together since 2014 to build the Ariane 5 space launcher and are establishing the new joint venture in order to develop the next generation rocket, the Ariane 6, which is expected to complete its first flight in 2020.